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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Racial Quotas?

This week there's been an interesting discussion on the SABR-L list as to whether there was ever an unspoken racial quota system in place in the Major Leagues. The thread originated in some comments made by Frank Robinson (I think) to the effect that teams only had one black star and his roommate in the early days. While that may have been true as each team signed its first black players these stats posted by Julius Tygiel don't support the idea that a quota was in place.

The percentage of blacks rose steadily starting in 1949 and plateaued in 1975 at 20.02%. The percentage of whites reached around 72% in the early 70s as well. Both levels have fallen since as Latinos and more recently Asian players have become more prevalent. Latinos passed blacks in 1997. Today's composition as of 2002:

White: 61.8%
Black: 11.4%
Latino: 24.7%
Asian: 2.6%


Anonymous said...


Interesting stats, but how was "race" determined esp. with "black-looking" latinos like Jose Contreras?

Dan Agonistes said...

That's an excellent question to which I don't have the answer. There was a subsidiary discussion on Davey Lopes in this regard who is not black or Latino but of Porteguese ancestry I believe. What bucket does he fit in?

Stephen Jay Gould was among those who argued (in his book The Mismeasure of Man) that race as a concept was meaningless.